BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE: Symmetrical necrosis of the brain stem nuclei has been described as a consequence of severe transitory cerebral hypoxia mainly in neonates or young adults who experienced an episode of acute ischemia due to transitory acute heart failure. We report selective bilateral lesions of the solitary tract nuclei in 5 adults with short survival intervals after acute heart failure. METHODS: In 5 patients who died due to cardiovascular pathology, histological examination was performed on multiple samples of cerebral hemispheres, on transverse sections of the midbrain and pons, and on transverse serial sections of the medulla stained with hematoxylin-eosin, Klüver-Barrera, and Luxol fast blue. The 3-dimensional reconstruction of the extension and topography of the medullary lesions was obtained with computed image analysis. RESULTS: In 4 subjects who died soon after an episode of acute heart failure (range of survival 10 hours to 2 days), the dorsal portion of the solitary tract nuclei showed an eosinophilic roundish aspect bilaterally. In their context, the neurons showed changes characteristic of ischemic coagulation necrosis. In a fifth patient, a 32-year-old man who died 15 days after an episode of cardiac arrest, 2 circumscribed symmetrical infarcts with macrophagic and astrocytic reactions were found at the same level. The topography of the lesions and the inflammatory reaction and gliosis of patient 5 suggest that the findings in the other 4 patients correspond to initial features of selective lesions of the solitary tract nuclei after acute heart failure: the short interval of survival prevented the evolution of the reactive process. The nucleus is localized at the watershed zone between the terminal branches of the medullary collateral vessels of the vertebral arteries, thus representing the last meadow in the case of sudden fall of the systemic blood flow due to acute heart failure. The absence of lesions of other medullary and pontine nuclei accounts for a selective vulnerability of the neurons of the solitary tract nuclei, and the selective dendritic lesions suggest an excitotoxic component to ischemic cell death. CONCLUSIONS: The commonly accepted resistance of the medullary centers to ischemic hypoxia in adults apparently could be due to the rapidity of death, which prevents the evolution of lesions that can be diagnosed. In addition, minor lesions in the medullary tegmentum after acute heart failure could play a role in the prevention of the resumption of autonomous cardiac and respiratory functions despite life-saving procedures.

Solitary tract nuclei in acute heart failure

DE CARO, RAFFAELE;PARENTI, ANNA ROSITA;MONTISCI, MASSIMO;GUIDOLIN, DIEGO;MACCHI, VERONICA
2000

Abstract

BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE: Symmetrical necrosis of the brain stem nuclei has been described as a consequence of severe transitory cerebral hypoxia mainly in neonates or young adults who experienced an episode of acute ischemia due to transitory acute heart failure. We report selective bilateral lesions of the solitary tract nuclei in 5 adults with short survival intervals after acute heart failure. METHODS: In 5 patients who died due to cardiovascular pathology, histological examination was performed on multiple samples of cerebral hemispheres, on transverse sections of the midbrain and pons, and on transverse serial sections of the medulla stained with hematoxylin-eosin, Klüver-Barrera, and Luxol fast blue. The 3-dimensional reconstruction of the extension and topography of the medullary lesions was obtained with computed image analysis. RESULTS: In 4 subjects who died soon after an episode of acute heart failure (range of survival 10 hours to 2 days), the dorsal portion of the solitary tract nuclei showed an eosinophilic roundish aspect bilaterally. In their context, the neurons showed changes characteristic of ischemic coagulation necrosis. In a fifth patient, a 32-year-old man who died 15 days after an episode of cardiac arrest, 2 circumscribed symmetrical infarcts with macrophagic and astrocytic reactions were found at the same level. The topography of the lesions and the inflammatory reaction and gliosis of patient 5 suggest that the findings in the other 4 patients correspond to initial features of selective lesions of the solitary tract nuclei after acute heart failure: the short interval of survival prevented the evolution of the reactive process. The nucleus is localized at the watershed zone between the terminal branches of the medullary collateral vessels of the vertebral arteries, thus representing the last meadow in the case of sudden fall of the systemic blood flow due to acute heart failure. The absence of lesions of other medullary and pontine nuclei accounts for a selective vulnerability of the neurons of the solitary tract nuclei, and the selective dendritic lesions suggest an excitotoxic component to ischemic cell death. CONCLUSIONS: The commonly accepted resistance of the medullary centers to ischemic hypoxia in adults apparently could be due to the rapidity of death, which prevents the evolution of lesions that can be diagnosed. In addition, minor lesions in the medullary tegmentum after acute heart failure could play a role in the prevention of the resumption of autonomous cardiac and respiratory functions despite life-saving procedures.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/11577/2433379
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